Pulmonary hypertension in cats

Sick cat

Furry animals are generally in good health; however, they can sometimes fall ill. One of the diseases they can suffer from is pulmonary hypertension, which is a syndrome that affects the vascular network of the lungs.

Although it is not very frequent, it is important to know everything about pulmonary hypertension in cats so that we know what to do in case our friend suffers from it.

What is it?

Pulmonary hypertension is a disease that affects the tissues of the lungs and the functioning of the heart structures. As a result, the body's tissues are damaged as they do not receive the amount of oxygen they need.

It must be taken into account that the lungs of felines have a network of high capacity blood vessels, but they are of low pressure and resistance. For this reason, in addition, the structures of the heart are able to withstand a higher pressure than the network of arteries and veins in the lungs.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of Pulmonary Hypertension in Cats are the following:

  • He's always tired
  • Cough, which may be accompanied by blood
  • Short of breath
  • Dehydration
  • Abnormal lung sounds
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Fainting or syncope

What are the causes?

In cats it is a disease that develops normally from another, which is what is called secondary pulmonary hypertension. Still, it can also appear "out of nowhere", considered idiopathic. Let's see what are the causes of one and the other:

  • Secondary pulmonary hypertension:
    • Associated with pulmonary thromboembolism, characterized by the formation of clots -thrombi- in the vessels of the lungs, especially in the pulmonary arteries and on the right side of the heart.
    • Caused by alterations in the left atrium of the heart: when it has to withstand high and also chronic pressure, the drainage of the veins of the lungs is impaired.
    • Derived from respiratory diseases: such as pneumonia, pulmonary fibrosis or obstructive tracheobronchial disease.
    • Related to pulmonary hypercirculation: the pulmonary arteries must withstand higher blood pressure.
  • Idiopathic or primary pulmonary hypertension: aging and obesity are risk factors, since the vascular structures of the heart and lungs wear out.

How is it diagnosed?

If our cat has any of the symptoms mentioned above, we should take it to the vet as soon as possible. Once there, they will do a physical exam, chest x-ray, and analysis (blood, urine, feces) to find out how you are doing. In addition, if there is suspicion of pulmonary hypertension, a Doppler echocardiography.

Which is the treatment?

Treatment will depend on the cause, but will generally be chosen administer drugs with inhibitory action on pulmonary vasconstriction, and others that strengthen the vessels of the lungs. In the event that you have blood clots, you will also be given anticoagulants, or you will choose to intervene if you have congenital heart defects with deviations.

Can it be prevented?

Kitten playing with a rope

Not 100%, but yes you can do some things:

  • Give him quality food (without cereals or by-products).
  • Give him all the mandatory vaccinations.
  • Deworm it so that it does not have fleas, ticks or other parasites.
  • Play with him daily, so that he is happy but also so that he exercises.

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